14th March 2018 in Beach, Weddings & Honeymoons

Bowled Over by the Caribbean Wow Factor

Gillian Coombes from our Holywood branch kicks off the winter blues with a restorative trip to St Lucia and Mustique as guest of Azure Ambassadors.

St Lucia and Mustique have long been celebrated as the preferred winter playgrounds of the rich and famous and, having visited recently, who am I to disagree? Exclusivity, seclusion and high standards are absolutely the name of the game for these jewels of the Caribbean and the destinations are as resolutely fashionable and stylish today as when they first became a hit with wealthy tourists back in the 1960s.

Perhaps surprisingly, there are opportunities for family holidays here and not every package deal will necessarily break the bank, but sometimes luxury is just what you want and … dare I say it … need?

I started off the way I meant to continue, with the luxury of the BA Executive Lounge at Gatwick, followed by the extreme comfort of Club World flights, then to a series of hotels where the only word to use was ‘wow!’ – and I don’t impress easily.

My trip began at the Capella on Marigot Bay which has just recently benefited from a well-considered, multi-million pound investment by the Capella Group.  The resort which has unsurpassed hospitality standards, enjoys an absolutely stunning marina location, in what is widely acclaimed as one of the most beautiful bays in the Caribbean.   The luxury superliners gravitate here to enjoy the hotel amenities, not least its famous private dining facilities. 

The hotel doesn’t have direct beach access, but its complimentary ferry operates six days a week taking guests to a small beach across the marina where sun loungers, beach towels and bottled water are all provided by the resort. I have to admit that the lack of beach access might have put me off the hotel were it not for the fact that some Oasis Travel colleagues had already stayed there and they absolutely raved about The Capella.

The marina itself has a very vibrant feel, with buzzing bars and chic boutiques creating an air of atmosphere and charm.  The hotel restaurants and main public areas overlook the bay with its gorgeous rows of private yachts and many guests choose to enjoy sunset cruises on board a catamaran (bliss!) or to go whale and dolphin watching – all easily organised as group of private tours at the hotel.

There are two suitably gorgeous swimming pools at the resort, one strictly adults-only … and of course there are all the requisite luxuries such as floating sunbeds, a swim up bar, and poolside lunch served to the atmospheric accompaniment steel drums and reggae.  As well as yoga and spa facilities, there a vast array of wellness options are available, as well as great watersports including sailing and kayaking in the impossible blue Caribbean Ocean.

The rooms are amazing, decorated in a fresh contemporary style with hardwood floors and sleek mahogany furniture.  Most (including mine – yay!) feature an outdoor jacuzzi, private balcony and views over the bay. The one-, two- and three- bedroom suites also include a fully fitted kitchen with designer appliances.

Some of the accommodation is elevated with brilliant views, but the two flights of stairs to reach them may not suit less mobile travellers.  Check that your room is perfectly suited to your personal needs.

By the time I reached my second stop, at the Viceroy Sugar Beach, I had convinced myself that I was one of The Beautiful People and I was certainly totally at ease with my new-found life of luxury!

Located in the scenic south of the island the Viceroy Sugar Beach boasts one of St Lucia’s most breath-taking locations, framed by the island’s iconic pitons, and offering magnificent accommodation. 

Guests stay in suberbly stylish private villas, each with full butler service: just call on your personal remote device!  Transport around the resort is in brightly coloured little tuktuks, painted pink , turquoise and purple – a great way to tour the fabulous grounds and to get from one facility to the next.

Each morning yoga sessions are hosted close by the Rainforest Spa which is housed in treehouse style gazebos hidden amongst tropical foliage.  It’s somehow easier to indulge in that gentle exercise when your view is straight overlooking the Gros Piton!   Breakfast is either served in your villa or in the terrace restaurant overlooking a serene lily pond.

Bayside is the casual beach restaurant for lunch or dinner, while the sophisticated Great Room offers a fine dining option each evening – we sampled the exquisite tasting dinner and it was beyond amazing.

This hotel is set in more than 100 acres of stunning natural surrounding which creates a wonderfully relaxed, in tune with nature ambiance.  While many of the attractions are very focused on adults. This is a place where families are actively welcomed and superbly well catered for.  It has fab kids’ facilities with The Sugar club to keep little ones entertained, while there is also a complimentary junior sailing programme available to help children aged 10yrs and over learn the basics of sailing and boat handling

Our grand finale though was a stay at The Cotton House Mustique, a 30 minute flight from St Lucia.

Words (almost!) fail me, for this hotel is, quite honestly, a masterpiece of understated elegance.  Located on a stunningly beautiful island, the hotel has invented what it calls ‘barefoot luxury’ … hedonistic escapism par excellence, setting entirely new standards for a beach resort.  Everything is exquisite, with no detail escaping the eagle-eyes of the discreet yet always super-attentive staff.

The Cotton House estate is set amongst thirteen expansive acres of tropical gardens leading down to Endeavour Bay, home to the Spa & Gym, Beach Café & Bar and the Watersports Centre.  At the heart of the estate lie The Great Room and Veranda Restaurants, surrounded by a collection of seventeen luxurious garden and sea-facing villas, suites and cottages, each with private verandas and plunge pools.

We stayed in one of the private villas and I still dream about its ultra-opulence.  It was nice to know that neighbours include the Hilfigger family and the Jaggers, who have holiday homes here!

My top tip for travellers to Mustique … book now!  No matter what you have seen on your travels with regard to luxury, I reckon the Cotton House will exceed those standards.  Less obvious tip – pre-book before you travel a beach picnic.  It is served by hotel staff who create a mood of magic around the occasion … a wonderful memory that will stay with you long after you have left the shore of Mustique behind!

Together, Mustique and St Lucia add up to an incredible travel experience – and I’d love to share my own memories of these tranquil and lovely islands.  If you want to escape life and chill out in total luxury, give me a call and I’ll tell you more!

By Zesty